If you're looking to add a tropical vibe to your home, nothing beats a palm plant. Though palm trees have limited outdoor ranges, once you look for them, you'll start noticing areca palms in interiors everywhere, from offices to shopping malls. They're widely available, easy to grow, and their lush foliage even helps remove some toxins from the air. It's no wonder they're popular! If you're ready to grow your own, here are the basics.
About This Plant
The areca palm, otherwise known as butterfly palm, golden cane palm, bamboo palm, or its Latin name, Dypsis lutescens, is a native of Madagascar.
The ASPCA says that areca palms are non-toxic to both dogs and cats.
Where to Grow
Areca palms require bright, indirect light, but direct sunlight may burn the leaves.
Home temperatures between 60°F (16°C) to 75°F (24°C) are fine, but sudden temperature drops or cold drafts can lead to brown spots on the leaves. Indoors, expect this plant to get 6 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) tall.
These plants can survive year-round outdoors in USDA zones 10 to 11, where the winter lows stay above freezing. Outdoors they may get 12 to 30 feet (4 to 9 meters) tall.
Care and Planting
The fastest way to accidentally kill this plant is by overwatering and/or not providing drainage, so watch out for this common pitfall. Plant in a well-draining potting soil, in a pot with drainage holes. Allow the top of the soil to dry out between waterings, and water less often during the winter months.
The areca palm is a relatively slow grower, and prefers to be somewhat root-bound, so it should only require repotting every two or three years. Repot during the spring in a pot 2-4 inches wider than the current pot.
If you'd like to help your palm grow faster, you can feed it a diluted water-soluble fertilizer monthly during the spring and summer growing season.
How to Propagate
The best way to propagate this plant is by gently dividing clumps when repotting.
Root rot is the biggest killer, but it can be avoided by watering properly (see above), and not keeping the soil soggy. Brown leaf tips may appear if the air is too dry, which also makes this plant more susceptible to pests like spider mites and mealybugs. If you notice an infestation, use an insecticidal soap to eradicate either of these pests, and consider moving the plant to a more humid spot, or otherwise increasing the humidity.